Wedding-Bell Clues: Gift That Keeps Giving?

By ROBIN GOLDWYN BLUMENTHAL

The concept of “stocks and socks” may have missed the target for Sears and Dean Witter, but an entrepreneur is betting that “stocks and clocks” will hit the mark.

On Monday, automated investment platform Betterment.com is launching a wedding-gift registry that allows guests to deposit money directly into newlyweds’ online accounts. The passive investing platform has $65 million under management and allows customers to choose a stock or bond portfolio that invests in underlying ETFs.

“Most people I know who are getting married aren’t interested in physical gifts,” says Jon Stein, the platform’s founder and CEO. “Everybody returns them.”

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William Waitzman for Barron’sWish List: An online platform allows wedding guests to contribute directly to couples’ targeted uses for their portfolios.

Stein, 33, should know. In August, he tested the investing gift-registry idea on himself when he married Polina Khentov, a graphic designer. Although his parents were “a little upset about it” at first, wondering why he didn’t want service for 12, they relented in the end, making a gift toward the couple’s goal of a Maine vacation.

Nearly all the other guests at the Hyannisport, Mass., wedding gave gifts to the registry—the only one Stein used. That isn’t to say the couple’s wish list didn’t include saving for some items like furniture, but that will have to wait for when they buy a bigger apartment, also part of the list.

“When you’re thinking about a traditional registry, everyone wants to give something that lasts,” Stein says. “This is one thing that will appreciate in value over time.” That’s assuming there are no crashes.

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This article originally published September 10th, 2012 on Barron's Magazine.